The Classical Kishore: 10 songs of the legendary singer based on Indian ragas

We bring to you 10 songs of Kishore Kumar based on Hindustani classical music

It’s not everyday that geniuses like Kishore Kumar are born. An actor, director and above all an exceptional singer, it’s very hard to find a talent who could match up to his skills. There may be some debate over  technical aspects of his singing (as he is often compared with his contemporaries like Mohammed Rafi, Mukesh and Manna Dey), but when it comes to popularity, Kishore Kumar is the numero-uno in the Indian film industry. One of the major reasons behind this is most of his songs were simple and could easily be connected with and even hummed.

Most of us know Kishore Da as a singer who had not learnt classical music, but still ruled (and continues to rule) the heart of millions. But the truth is, Kishore’s lack of classical musical knowledge cost him dearly as leading composers of his time like Naushad and Roshan did not give him a break. However, SD Burman took a keen interest in his voice and gave him a chance to sing for Dev Anand and as we all know, the rest is history . Unlike  popular perception, Kishore has crooned various melodies based on Hindustani classical music, though it may have been steps away from the usual structure and alankar of a pure raga but the soul, more or less, remained the same. Here are 10 Kishore Kumar songs based on Indian classical music.

1) Koi Humdum Na Raha Koi Sahara Na Raha – Raag Jhinjhoti

This song was originally composed by Khorshed Minocher-Homji better known as Saraswati Devi , the first woman composer of Bollywood, and sung by Kishore’s elder brother Ashok Kumar in Jeevan Naiya (1936). However, 25 years later, Kishore da crooned this melody based on Raag Jhinjhoti for his film Jhumroo.

There is an interesting anecdote that Ashok Kumar shared about this song. When Kishore wanted to use this song for his film, Dada Muni ( Ashok Kumar) advised him it’s a difficult song as it involved 14 maatras (beats) of Ada Chautaal in it. To this, Kishore Da innocently answered, I don’t know about that but I will definitely sing better than you. Listen to this soulful rendition.

2) Jeevan Se Bhari Teri Aankhein – Raag Malgunji

There is a lack of consensus over its raag. While many music aficionados think it’s based on raag Rageshri, others are of the opinion it’s raag Malgunji. This confusion is understandable as Malgunji is itself a subtle combination of Raag Bageshri and Rageshri. Rajesh Khanna did justice to this beautiful song on screen as he expressed his desire to live despite knowing he will die soon. The music was composed by Kalyanji Anand ji and the lyrics was written by Indeevar for Safar.

3) Mere Naina Saavan Bhaado- Raag Shivranjani

Raag Shivranjani was the favourite raag of Raaj Kapoor, in fact some of his most famous songs are based on this raaga. Jaane Kahaan Gaye Woh Din (Mera Naam Joker), O Mere Sanam O Mere Sanam are based on this raag. This raag has also been used to convey love which transcends one birth. Mere Naina Saawan Bhado was also sung by melody queen Lata Mangeshkar but it’s Kishore da’s version that people’s hearts and continues to be one of his most popular songs. The music was by R. D. Burman and lyrics by Anand Bakshi. The song is from the film Mehbooba starring Rajesh Khanna and Hema Malini.

4) Humein Tumse Pyaar Kitna- Raag Bhairavi

Bhairavi is the most commonly used raag by Indian composers. This song from Kudrat in raag Bhairavi is another feather in the cap of Kishore Kumar. However, the female version sung by Begum Parveen Sultana is miles ahead of its male version. Kishore Kumar was nominated for a Filmfare Award for this song, while Parveen Sultana walked away with the Best Female Playback Award. The song was composed by RD Burman and written by Majrooh Sultanpuri.

Do listen to the female version too.

5) Kuch To Log Kahenge- Raag Khamaj

The emotional intensity of this beautiful song from Amar Prem transports the listener to another world. Beautifully filmed on Rajesh Khanna and Sharmila Tagore, this song was composed by Pancham and written by Anand Bakshi. Other popular songs based on raag Khamaj are Tere Mere Milan Ki Ye Raina, Aayo Kahaan Se Ghanshyam, O Sajna, Barakha Bahara Ayi.

6) Aapki Aankhon mein- Raag Kedar

This incredible duet by Kishore and Lata from Rekha starrer Ghar is based on raag Kedar. This song was written by Gulzar and its music was composed by RD Burman. Songs like Humko Man Ki Shakti Dena, Darshan Do Ghanshyam, Pal Do Pal Ka Saath Hamara are also based on this evening raag named after Lord Shiva. This raag is mostly used in Bhakti Rasa.

7) Khilte Hain Gul Yahaan- Raag Bhimpalasi

This beautiful song from Shashi Kapoor starrer Sharmille is based on raag Bhimpalasi. The song has been sung by Kishore Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar. Bhimpalasi is an afternoon raga also famous as Abheri ragam in Carnatic music. Other famous songs in Raag Bhimpalasi are Dam Mast Kalandar (Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan), Suno Sasurjee (Dulhe Raja), Nainon Me Badra Chaye and more.

8) Wo Shaam Kuch Ajeeb Thi-Raag Yaman

Yaman is the most popular raag among classical music lovers and several Bollywood compositions are based on this evening raag. Said to be the sweetest of all ragas, Yaman has inspired some of the most beautiful Ghazals on Indian sub-continent. The music of Wo Shaam Kuch Ajeeb Thi was composed by Hemant Kumar and its lyrics was written by the Gulzar Saheb. Rajesh Khanna once again justified the emotions of this song through his priceless expressions in Khamoshi.

9) Ye raatein ye mausam Nadi- Raag Kirwani

This heart touching composition by Ravi was sung by Kishore Da in raag Kirwani for Delhi Ka Thug. Kirwani is assumed to have originated from Carnatic music. It invokes a meloncholy, heart-rending and sentimental feel. Other popular songs based on this raaga, Aane Wala Pal (Golmaal), Ye Raat Bheegi Bheegi (Chori Chori), Tum Bin Jaun Kahaan (Pyar Ka Mausam).

10) Iss mod se jaate hain- Raag Yaman

This soulful duet by Lata and Kishore from Aandhi has a lasting effect on its listeners. No wonder, it is based on mellifluous Raag Yaman. Once again composed by R D Burman and written by Gulzar, this song is one of the reasons Aandhi is still popular among cinelovers . Other popular songs based on Raag Yaman are Jab Deep Jale Aana, Aaj Jaane Ki Zid na karo, Chandan Sa Badan, Aanshu Bhari Hai and many more

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